Scouting for Trout: Exploring Tahoe’s High Lakes

In anticipation of moving from Colorado into a full summer working at the Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters, it made sense to shelf my dog-eared John Gierach books in favor of a new local fly fishing demigod: Ralph Cutter. Before arriving, I’d worked my way through a good chunk of Cutter’s book Fish Food , which revolutionized my appreciation for understanding bugs. I was amazed, as a relatively new fly fisherman, how someone could take something as potentially dry as an in-depth look into entomology, and create a page-turner of a guide that actually made me laugh out loud. His work has taken the intimidation out of stopping by the fly shop to pick through the hundreds of tiny bins of flies, and has certainly made me more confident in sharing my excitement for the “fly” part of fly fishing with our customers.

As an avid backpacker and someone with an acute interest in exploring my new high altitude backyard through the lens of fly fishing, Cutter’s chapter on Upslope Blow-In grabbed my attention. It’s a short passage about struggling to find – and nearly giving up on the search for – a storied lake full of chunky goldens who feed on unexpected fare. His small midge emergers are refused repeatedly until he stops, skims the surface, and is stunned to retrieve a handful of PMDs, carpenter ants, beetles, grasshoppers and caddisflies; all of which are lower altitude insects that get blown in from miles away.

This lake, in his words, “did not want to be found”, which provided a suitable challenge for my last two days off. I paired down my usual busting-at-the-seams fanny pack of fly boxes (a hard move for any well-accessorized fisherman who is ever fearful of not having “that one bug”), grabbed my 6 piece backpacking rod, and drove up to the trailhead for an overnight trip I’d hope could produce some trout. Simply the hike in provided good learning: check the forecast ahead of time for gale-force wind conditions (usually not detrimental when just going hiking), and when approaching a rain-swollen lake that you plan on sleeping next to remember your bug spray. (Oh yeah, it’s June.)

Arriving at the first lake was a good sign, although after quickly taking a look over the map and taking a bearing to our destination lake, we realized this probably was not the lake that “didn’t want to be found”, although it shared the same name. It was too easy to get to, contrary to Cutter’s description. After another quarter mile of navigating around beautiful granite outcroppings and scaling a rock slide, we peered down to see a well-protected tarn that looked ultra-fishy. Suddenly I didn’t care what the lake was called or who’d been there before and written about it; it was gorgeous and I felt certain there were fish in it.

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“I’ll set up the tarp if you want to go do your Trout Whisperer thing,” allowed my boyfriend, which made me laugh but also reminded me that I wasn’t on a roiling stream: I did need to approach the very clear, still water with slow, cautious movements. I recalled one of our guides during the shop’s Guide School demonstrating the way to creep up on any clear body of water, so not to spook all the fish. It also dawned on me again that it’s not as obvious where a fish will be in a lake, compared to the streams I’d been learning from lately. You really do need to scout for your trout in these lakes, particularly if they’re not rising up to say “Hey! Here I am!” I proceeded to creep around with my pocket full of new bugs, looking for any sign of which ones to use.

The fishing turned out to be incredibly fun. I found a drop off near a gurgling inlet just tucked out of the consistent wind, put on a size 14 Cutter’s Ant I’d picked up at our shop. I let out some line with a small false roll cast to set up and while reaching up to send line with a real roll cast I missed an unexpectedly explosive strike. This was a real tone setter, it’s on! Every other cast from then on produced beautiful, fat, foot-long dancing brookies that clearly spend their days watching the surface for those blown-in bugs. This was the type of fishing that gets one less worried about size, and more excited to quickly get that bug back out on the water for the next strike. I found myself changing flies just for fun, to see how many different species I’d brought with me that they’d hungrily hit.

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One of the many hungry brookies caught on a blown-in bug pattern.

Although Cutter’s hard-to-get-to-mystery-golden-lake-of-the-same-name still stands elusive, I was pleased to head back towards the car the next day after two solidly educational and rewarding fishing sessions, a refreshing night up in the high country, a reminder of how just beautiful those brook trout are and why I’m inspired to get out there and seek contemplative wilderness experiences, now with my fly rod. Gierach captured it completely when he wrote, “Trout are among those creatures that are one hell of a lot prettier than they need to be. They can get you to wondering about the hidden workings of reality.”

June Intensive Intro to Fly Fishing

Full Day Introduction to Fly Fishing Course

Course Curriculum Includes:

  • Equipment
  • Knots and rigging
  • Entomology and fly selection
  • Trout behavior
  • Reading water
  • Safe wading techniques
  • Presenting the fly & understanding the drift
  • Fly casting–including the overhead, roll, and lob cast
  • Local fly fishing options
  • As this is a non-fishing course you will not need a license unless you are going to fish after the course is complete.
  • Most of the class will take place outside, weather permitting.

Participants need to bring lunch, water, appropriate clothing, a portable outdoor chair, and any of your own equipment. Rods, reels, waders, and boots (all necessary except waders in the summer) can be rented at the shop.

This course will provide you with all the necessary information and techniques to begin your own personal fly fishing adventure!

Rick McGuire TFFO instructor 530-318-5694 rickemcguire@yahoo.com

Guide School 2015

Your guide school experience will include 6 days of outside and on the water instruction. This will include a half day classroom session and a full drift boat day. We feel that being outside instead in a classroom is the best environment to learn how to be a successful guide. Also included is the opportunity for every student to spend one full day with one of our guides as a shadow in an actual guiding situation. That comes out to seven full days of guiding instruction to give you the most comprehensive guide school experience in the industry.

It’s time….

If you have never fished Pyramid, but have always wanted to then it’s time. The next 6 weeks any day with a bit of wind will produce fish.  Best part is anyone with a trout rod can do it rite now too. Just keep in mind if you hook that 20 lber on your 5 wt it may not be pretty!

This is Olin with his first pyramid cutty. Actually his first fish on a fly too! I think he has caught the addiction as well as the fish…stop by the shop and get geared up for the mid! Best fishing of the year is coming up, tight lines and we will see you on the water.

Guide School testamonial

Here is a testimonial from one of our graduates Morgan Kane.  He was also the winner of that year’s casting contest.

Rick,

The school was very informational.  I had a great time learning with the other students as well as the guides and teachers.  I really liked the time everyone really spent with the verbage of teaching.  Now the only way to keep this knowledge fresh is to continue fishing and teaching others that is why I am moving forward with it.  I have already bought my bond through the state and Im in the process of filling out my guides paperwork.  I’m also gonna start shadowing now that I am back from Belize.  This school was so informational one of the nights I was in Belize( nothing but fish on the brain….even tho it was my honeymoon), I had a dream that I was guiding a client on the Truckee river.  “Lob, lift and now lead the indicator down the seam”.  I had a blast and will continue striving forward to turn my passion into a career.

The networking side of things really helps as well.  Throughout the week I would post a new pic each day from our school.  I must have had over a half dozen replys or private messages about the Tahoe Fly fishing guides school.  I ranted nothing but positive replies because I feel the school has helped tremendously.

Thanks again,
Morgan

Sign up today as spots are limited.

Rick McGuire TFFO Guide School Director 530-318-5694  rickemcguire@yahoo.com

Guide School 2015

Once again this year’s Guide School has the privilege of having Jaime Lyle as our casting instructor.  Jaime is a certified FFF Master Casting Instructor and one of the best in the industry.  He is currently a California sales rep for Sage, Redington, and Rio. Student will spend an entire day with Jaime and our instructors working on their personal casting skills and learning how to teach others. We are two months away from this year’s school and getting pretty excited as it approaches.  Contact me if you have any questions and sign up soon as we have a limit on the number of spots available.

Rick McGuire- Guide School Director  530-318-5694  rickemcguire@yahoo.com

Big bugs on the truckee

We have lot of big stones on the cali side of the truckee rite now. Big fish as well, even a few looking up! Flows are really about perfect as well. Expect most action under the indicator, big indo, lots of shot and heavy runs should put you on a few.
Now is a perfect time to book a trip get out and ski a few runs early and meet one of us after lunch on the river? Sounds like a good day to me!

LTCC fly fishing class

This spring I will be teaching an 8 hour Introduction to Fly Fishing class through the Community Education Department at Lake Tahoe Community College on Sunday May 10th from 8 am to 5 pm.  This intensive course is designed for the beginner as well as anyone who is struggling with their fly fishing skills.  Topics that are covered include equipment selection, casting, reading water effectively, entomology and fly selection, presenting the fly properly, as well as others.  Check out the college website or contact me for more information.  The course is titled Fly Fishing For Everyone.  Hope to see you there.

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Rick McGuire Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters, rickemcguire@yahoo.com, 530-318-5694

Pleasanton Fly Show

I had the opportunity to spend yesterday at the Pleasanton Fly Show and a had a great time. Although I made it a long one day event leaving at 5:30 am and getting back home at 8:30 pm, I was glad I did it.  My main agenda was to begin the process of creating a network of job opportunities for our Guide School graduates.  I talked with a lot of great outfitters and lodge owners and learned a lot about the process for becoming an Alaska fly fishing guide.  Everyone I met seemed genuinely interested in what we we were doing and in most cases it looks like there may be some possibilities in the future for creating the network we have dreamed of.  Although I realize this will be an ongoing and longer term project, I was able to find what may be some opportunities this year.  Exciting!  It was also great to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones. Including these lovely ladies from Sisters on the Fly.  My wife loves them.

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Rick McGuire Guide School Director TFFO